Every student, regardless of their major and future plans in life, must work on creating a personal brand during their time in college. It is the single most important thing you can do to help separate yourself from the competition when you begin your career.
Think about it. If you present yourself in the same ways as hundreds of other students, how will you stand out for an internship or your first professional job?
But the question is how do you build your personal brand as a student?
You Can Start With Being True to Yourself
Some of you will read this and probably roll your eyes. I don’t blame you. But here is why it is important to be true to yourself. The best way to build your personal brand as a student is to stand out. And that means coming off as authentic.
Your personal brand must align with, and reflect, your likes and interests. What is it that you want to do, and what attributes and qualities express your passion? Let your personality shine because it is the most unique thing to you.
Personal brand is not your reputation
Now, here’s something you should keep in mind. Often, we confuse our reputation with our personal brand. But the two are not one and the same.
Everyone has a reputation. The first impressions you make, the relationships you form with managers and peers, and how you communicate. All of these things impact how others see you. For instance, if you ask your colleagues to describe you, they might say you’re funny. Or that you are a warm person who’s easy to collaborate with. Some might say that you occasionally run late to meetings but are great at prioritizing tasks. Your reputation is made up of the opinions and beliefs people form about you based on your collective actions and behaviors.
Your personal brand, on the other hand, is much more intentional. It is how you want people to see you. Whereas reputation is about credibility, your personal brand is about visibility and the values that you outwardly represent.
Build Your Personal Brand As A Student By Boosting Your Online Presence
Now, I didn’t say create cause most of you are already online. Your online presence starts with creating visible profiles on social media platforms. The problem is that isn’t enough. You have to boost your online presence and you do that by managing it the right way.
You keep the private accounts private. You pay attention to the things you post and the people you follow (even on those private accounts, yes). And you create separate professional accounts like LinkedIn, or even Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok (depending on your niche) and keep them public so they are easily accessible.
You keep your content focused on what you can offer in your field and what accomplishments you want to highlight. You avoid confrontations and don’t insult people online. And most importantly, you don’t do anything that would cause a potential employer or college to think twice about you, now or in the future.
Make sure your Social Media handles are consistent
Having handles that appear consistently increases brand recognition. Also, it makes it easier for others to search and find you. If you want to increase the chances of people mentioning your brand, help them find and follow you by making it obvious when they type the ‘@’ sign.
You need a simple handle, as close to your personal or brand name as possible. The handle you choose is the handle you want on all of your accounts you want your brand to shine through.
Build Your Personal Brand As A Student By Having Professional Profile Pictures
The bare fact is that your professional image is very much linked to your literal images. What you look like shouldn’t matter, but it can. Ensure that you use a professional profile picture on all of your professional social media accounts.
This doesn’t mean you have to have a boring picture in a blazer or a suit. It depends on your niche and how you want people to see you. But all in all, it definitely means you have to be dressed appropriately. Or, at least avoid the improper version. For example, bathing suits are a no (you should save those for your private accounts).
Since it is the first thing people see, it is a big part of your personal brand. So, it may be worthwhile to spend a little more time on this. In the end, think about the goal profile photo as something your grandma would choose to put in a frame. If it passes this test, put it online!
A little tip: You also need to optimize your profile images on each network. This usually just takes a quick crop, which you can do in minutes. Think about how will it look expanded, or smaller, when showing up in people’s streams or how will it look on mobile compared to desktop.
Build Your Personal Brand as A Student By Having A Professional Email Address
Probably the most crucial component of your email address is your username. Some people seem not to think about the fact that a simple username like JaneDoe looks way more professional than CoolGirl277 or lastsamurai94.
Think about it, if you are using a funny email address and send your resume to apply for a job, there is a chance that your email will not be opened because it sounds unprofessional. You just do not know, right?
You may think that choosing an email address is something simple and require no effort. While this may be true to a certain extent, having a professionally chosen email address has a great impact on both your personal and professional life.
That is why you have to decide whether you want to use your full name, the first name only, a combination of name and initials, or a different username entirely. Bear in mind your entire brand and brand name when you do this.
Consider Blogging (or Vlogging)
Everyone everywhere is working on building their personal brand. Teens and tweens are doing it on TikTok. Beauty experts are doing it with YouTube tutorials. Influencers are doing so with Instagram posts. I could go on and on but here’s the thing.
Only those who are serious about personal branding know that having their own blog is one of the best ways to take their brand to the next level. It’s an open secret. Blogging is a key component of every strong content marketing strategy. So what should you do?
Writing and making videos about the areas you are interested in is a great way to show that you are articulate, passionate, and knowledgeable. If you haven’t written articles yet, you might want to use some of your better school work or portfolios and use those.
Both blogs and vlogs have the added benefit of being tools or added material you can send when a particular opportunity comes up.
Build Your Personal Brand as A Student By Creating A Personal Website/Portfolio
Lastly, but certainly not least, your resume. What you should do for your personal brand is create a modern CV. Your resume, to be effective, needs to be modern, concise, consistent, clear, and easy to read. And yes, I am thinking of a personal website or a portfolio, depending on what you want to show.
Creating a personal website can help you highlight your achievements, experience, and career goals. In other words, by creating your website or a portfolio you create your online home.
This way you can be somewhat in control of what people will find when they search for you. And more importantly, you get to show all parts of yourself, or at least the ones you really want to.
It is an opportunity to highlight all the vital information, and give a little intro to who you are and what you are capable of.
Decide what to include
Use your strongest work samples – they can include reports, articles, publications, photos of art projects, artwork, videos, documents, etc. Decide on the samples that effectively illustrate your capabilities.
Sometimes your career field has you involved with different projects and assignments and it can be hard to find space or a way to articulate exactly what you’ve worked on in a few short bullet points. Especially at the beginning of your career. This is why an online portfolio can be your opportunity to include actual evidence of your work, even if it delves into different skills, so future employers already have a sense of what you can do.
To Sum Up
As the role of digital media evolves, personal branding plays even a more vital role. By taking time to develop your personal brand as a student, you are helping put your best foot forward in every situation and encounter. Moreover, building a powerful personal brand through your online presence can significantly increase the chances of furthering your career prospects.